I’d like to welcome a guest this week to share thoughts on the love letters page. I’ve known Ryan since high school, when he was the coolest Freshman hanging out with my inner-circle of Senior friends. He’s still one of the coolest guys I know.
You can find him writing about all kinds of things on Self Sagax.
By the way, in case you need to know (because I did), “sagax” is a Latin word meaning of quick perception, acute, or alert.
I’ve wondered for a long time what it’s like to be single on Valentines Day.
The Valentines Day dance was coming up in a week. This year it happened to fall on a Friday, which was perfect all around because nobody ever really wanted to go to the dances that were during the week. I’d had a strange sort of crush on Georgia, and she rode my bus too, which meant she lived nearby. I liked having pipe dreams of having a girlfriend whose house I could get to by riding my bike. I often imagined that she lived just on the other side of the hill from my house. I got up the nerve that Monday to pass her a note in class asking her if she wanted to go to the dance with me. I even put in the little check boxes for yes and no. Minutes later, it was passed back with the little box next to no ticked. I was sad, but not heartbroken. I went to the dance by myself. So did she. I asked her to dance. She said no again. I was a little heartbroken.
That was in 1997, and it was the last Valentines day until now that I’ve been really and truly single.
I’ve had to get used to the possibility of being single on Valentines Day for the last two years now as I’ve been quasi-single, caught in the throes of attempting time and time again to save a failing relationship. Somehow it happened that both years my quasi-girlfriend and I were getting along well so there was no need to worry.
Then there is now. For the first time in sixteen years I am truly and completely single on this holiday that has come to be embodied my people of all ages in love, holding hands, maybe sharing a tender moment and gifts. I always wondered what it would feel like. Now I can tell you. It feels a little crummy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the holiday. I’ve never been one to celebrate it with big romantic gestures, fancy dinners, expensive gifts or anything of the sort, but it’s always been a day of some sort of validation. It’s OK to be a little flamboyant with the PDA’s, an excuse to drink wine on a weekday, a night to go ahead and set aside time for some heavy cuddling (and perhaps more.) I liken it to this:
When I was in high school, for every single assembly the seniors would enter last. The rest of the student body had to rise and remain standing until the senior class had filed in, and then finally they were allowed to be seated. It was awful and annoying… until you were a senior. Then it felt great. It was a mark of respect for your hard work in reaching your final year.
And being single on Valentines Day feels like having to stand and watch as all the happy couples get their day of recognition. Which feels crummy, for the exact same reason: because this time, it’s not me.
But I still like the day. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Not because I plan on going out and meeting someone at a single’s event (I don’t) or because I’m going to surprise the girl I have a crush on (I’m not) or because I’ll somehow stumble upon a strange and winding series of events from a movie that will end up with me rescuing and then kissing the girl of my dreams at one minute before midnight (I won’t.) But because I’m looking at it from a different angle.
Valentines Day is not about buying gifts, or cards, or dinners, or sex, or getaways, or any of that nonsense. It’s about love. It gets so muddled up with ’romantic love’ (because, honestly, that’s the best way to move products) that sometimes people are convinced that that’s the only kind of love there is, but there’s so many other amazing kinds and Valentines Day is about celebrating all of them. Your parents, your children, your siblings, your friends, it’s about loving them too. Love strangers, if you want to. I often do. Love the little happy moments in your day, like getting green lights all the way to work, or getting a lollipop from the bank. Love the bad moments, too, because they exist to help the good ones feel so much better. Love the sun, because even though you won’t live to see it, someday it will die too. There’s an endless list of things to love, and this is the day to make sure you love all of them. It doesn’t matter if you’re single or attached or married or whatever. Love your cat, your X-box, love a flower you saw on the side of the road.
Because I don’t know if you know this, but love is pretty much the coolest thing I can think of, and having a day that’s all about love is pretty much about the best thing too.
Even if I do feel a little crummy for not having someone to hold hands with.